By Jason Stryd, Pastor of the Albanian Minsitry at Northeast Community Church
You might think that for the thousands of immigrants who arrive in the United States each year that it would be a step closer towards the gospel and opportunities to hear of Jesus Christ. With churches on many corners, a history of Christianity and religious freedom, what else could be needed?
But in reality for some immigrant groups, moving to the US actually makes them less reached and impacted by the gospel. In fact, a 2009 study by LifeWay Research and the North American Mission Board found that a quarter of immigrant groups in the United States remain unreached.
This is the case with Albanian immigrants. Albania as a country is by no means reached. Evangelicals make up only 3% of the population, The rest of the population claims a religious background of approximately 67% Muslim, 15% Catholic and 15% Eastern Orthodox. However, they remain deeply impacted by the virulent atheism of the communist regime that lasted from 1940-1990. Yet in the last 25 years since communism fell, God’s word has gone forth. There are now evangelical churches in most towns and cities and they often are represented in national debates, programs and news.
Albanians who arrive in the US, though, actually move further from opportunity to encounter the gospel. Language and culture are major obstacles that keep first generation Albanians from participating in churches or understanding the gospel. The opportunities for wealth and success in business, work and academics pull many away from spiritual concerns and interests. Among hundreds of thousands of Albanians exist organized groups of Albanian believers there is outreach in only a handful of North American cities: New York City, Newark, Detroit, Philadelphia and Toronto. Thousands upon thousands of Albanians live and die here without encountering the grace of Jesus.
This is why we are so in awe of the work God has done among Albanians in Philadelphia at Northeast Community Church. It is incredible to us that God has birthed a worshipping congregation of Albanians who gather every week and work together to broadcast the news of Jesus.
My co-worker, Martin Katro, and I are burdened with two crucial things:
1. That God would continue to establish this Albanian community, raising up leaders, creating ownership and adding to the number. We rejoice that in many ways a worshipping congregation has been birthed, but we also recognize that it is young, dependent and fragile. Would you pray with us for Christ to continue to build the Albanian community at Northeast Community Church?
2. That God would use the work in Philadelphia as a spark to ignite gospel work among Albanians throughout North America. On November 4-6 in New York City, we will be participating in the annual meeting of Albanian ministries, leaders and believers in North America. This year we anticipate the forming of the Albanian Evangelical Alliance of North America, a network of individuals and churches who will better connect work in North America with Albania and Kosovo, further igniting the planting of churches and reaching of Albanians in North America. Martin and I serve on the working group for this network and are excited for its potential. Would you pray for the November weekend and God’s out-pouring of His Spirit on the gathering and the movement among Albanians?
We greatly appreciate Tenth’s faithful financial support and prayer for this work! If, as an individual, you would like to receive regular prayer updates or give financially, please email me, Jason Stryd, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May Jesus continue to use Tenth in reaching the unreached in Philadelphia!